Laporan RAND Corporation : "Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources and Strategies (2003)"

Baru-baru ini sebuah kajian dasar bertajuk “Civil Democratic Islam:Partners, Resources and Strategies” (2003) telah diterbitkan oleh RAND Corporation,sebuah badan penyelidikan dan penasihat yang berpengaruh di Washington. Dalam kajian ini, umat Islam dinilai dari segi kecenderungan pemikiran mereka sama ada tradisionalis,fundamentalis, modernis atau sekularis. Kecenderungan inidiasaskan kepada isu-isu seperti hijab, negara Islam, hak asasi manusia, poligami, hudud, dan jihad. Kajian itu menegaskan bahawa golongan modernis dan sekularis perlu didokong secara halus dengan lambakan dana penajaan, ruang media, platform berbicara dan penonjolan idola untuk dipuja. Golongan tradisionalis pula disarankan agar didokong manakala golongan fundamentalis hendaklah dipinggirkan.

Perbalahan dan pertelingkahan perlu disuburkan agar sumber tenaga dan kekuatan mereka dilelahkan tanpa sebarang manfaat yang jelas. Golongan fundamentalis hendaklah ditohmah dan disisihkan. Kajian tersebut juga menyarankan agar badan-badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) perlu diwujudkan untuk menongkah arus perdana dan merungkai ajaran-ajaran asasi Islam. ABIM mengharapkan agar kita tidak terperangkap di dalam usaha mengadu-dombakan umat melalui pengelompokan ini.

Dalam pada itu juga, kita perlu menggariskan kaedah kita sendiri untuk menangani strategi-strategi yang telah dikemukakan dalam kajian organisasi-organisasi luar yang memusuhi Islam itu.
(Ucapan Dasar Muktamar Sanawi Ke-33)


- http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1716/MR1716.pdf">RAND Corporation Report : "Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources and Strategies (2003)" atau taipkan: http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1716/MR1716.pdf

- Summary RAND Corporation Report Untuk ringkasan laporan berkenaan)

Pandangan Saudara Farish Noor yang ditulis dalam Malaysiakini.com

From Malaysiakini:Why I ain’t no ‘moderate’ Muslim
Farish A Noor

Reading the recent RAND Corporation report on ‘Civil Democratic Islam’ by Sheryl Bernard, I could not help but feel as if I had fallen into some time-warp and had been transported back to the 19th century when Orientalist scholarship was at its peak and Orientalist
scholars and policy-makers like Snouk Hurgronje were working closely with the colonial governments of Western Europe, formulating strategies on how to divide and rule the Muslim world.

The fact that the RAND report is meant to serve the needs and aspirations of American power is clear when we look at its contents and see for whom it was written.

Conceived within the RAND National Security Research Division and commissioned by the Smith Richardson Foundation, this is no mere work of a poor post-grad researcher trying to earn some money to pay off his car loan.

RAND’s intimate links with US power is well known to all, and the RAND corporation has also worked closely with the US army, as its RAND Air Force Project testifies.

The RAND report by Bernard divides the global Muslim community according to a typology of Islamist types or categories, ranging from ‘Fundamentalists’ and ‘Traditionalists’ to ‘Modernists’ and ‘Secularists’.

It then proposes a number of crude strategies to get the fundamentalists and traditionalists to slog it out against one another, while keeping the modernists at bay and the secularists
close at hand. Interestingly, the report states that moderate Muslims should be kept apart from ‘left-wingers’ and anti-globalisation activists who are opposed to US economic, military
and political interests.

The overall aim, as the report puts it, is to “find strategic partners” in the Muslim world to help in the promotion of “democratic Islam”, which the author hopes will be the antidote
to the problem of “militant Islam” (or, as the term is increasingly used today, ‘Jihadism’).

Mixed approach

Those who are familiar with the language and discourse of the colonial powers in the 19th century should be familiar with the imperial semantics at work here. Then, as now, crude typologies such as the one being proposed here served the purpose of instrumental
fictions that laid the foundations for concrete policies that were in turn applied with vigour.

It led to the colonial powers actively seeking compradore agents and clients among the subjugated Muslim masses who could be co-opted into their grand strategies, and then made to play the dubious role of cultural go-betweens and contact points between the colonial masters and their subjects.

Giving a ‘Muslim face’ to what was really western colonial power imposed by violence and force of arms. (For a contemporary example of this sort of nefarious shadow politics at work, one only has to look at Iraq and Afghanistan.)

In the report the author recommends a “mixed approach” in providing “specific types of support to those (Muslim actors or groups) who can influence the outcome in desirable ways”.

Just what the ‘desirable outcome’ is becomes clear when the report talks about the need to pacify anti-American elements and currents in the Muslim world that threaten US hegemony and its global projection of power and force.

‘Clumsy document’

As expected, there are the usual platitudes and lip-service paid to the thorny question of the underlying causes of Muslim anger.

Yet a closer reading of the report reveals that the question of the root causes of terror are hardly addressed at all; any more than the role of the US and its foreign policy (most notably its continued support of Israel) in complicating matters on the global stage and fuelling the unrest and chaos in the Muslim world.

Rather, the report talks about how US policy should be aimed at promoting ‘moderate Islamic’ currents and ideas and how moderate Muslims should be helped in their struggle to promote democracy in their respective societies.

Here lies the crux of the problem. While there is nothing wrong with being a ‘moderate Muslim’ per se, one could argue that moderate Islam cannot and will not be born in the laboratories of US think-tanks and policy institutes.

Nor should the US or its allies be so cavalier in their issuance of fatwa (decrees) as to which state or government is ‘moderate’ and which is not, according to its own jaundiced criteria.

Thus far we have seen at least three cases where Muslim states have been bestowed the much-coveted honour of being ‘moderate’ Islamic states: Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia. Yet in all three cases it is clear that the classification of ‘moderate Muslim state’ has more
to do with the needs of US foreign policy than any real commitment to moderate Islam on Islamic terms.

How, pray tell, can Pakistan be seen to be a moderate Islamic state when it remains fundamentally allied to US strategic goals and when then harassment of Islamist opposition parties and actors has become so routinised?

And how can Malaysia be seen to be a moderate Muslim state when repressive laws such as the Internal Security Act which allows for detention without trial remain in place?

The classification of Indonesia as a moderate Muslim state is the most baffling of all, when its generals are back in power and military hardliners like Gen Hendropriyono – accused of the slaughter of hundreds in south Sumatra – be made the head of the country’s anti-terror unit.

‘Moderate Islam’ can only emerge from within the corpus of Islamic thought and Islamic norms and praxis. It has, in other words, to be a step in the natural evolution of Islamic society itself, on its own terms and at its own pace.

Yet the Muslim world today cannot and has not been allowed to evolve on its own due to the constant interference and meddling in its internal affairs by external powers bent on securing tactical leverage as well as protecting their own selfish material interests -
be it in the case of oil and gas, or other military-strategic interests.

Taken in this context, the RAND report reads as a clumsy, almost farcical document that attempts social engineering at its crudest.

No Muslim academic, intellectual or activist worth his or her salt would want to be stained by the Midas touch of such a report, or the contaminating feelers of Washington and its neo-Con coterie.

For most Muslims being a ‘moderate Muslim’ means, first and foremost, being committed to the values of democracy and human rights the world over, and opposed to the unilateral militarism and hegemony of the USA.

Contrary to what Bernard may think, genuine moderate Muslims are the last people she and the USA can turn to for support and patronage. That’s why I ain’t no ‘moderate Muslim’ by her standards, and thank God for that!


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